Net neutrality is up to Congress

Seattle Times:

THE fight for open, equal access to the Internet shifts to Congress, after a federal appeals court Tuesday ruled the Federal Communications Commission could not impose the requirement.

[Seattle Times editorial]

This is a setback, but not the end to providing legally binding language that all users of the Internet, and the content it circulates, are treated equally by network providers.

If the courts found the administrative authority of the FCC inadequate, then it falls to lawmakers to pass legislation that puts the commission in firm control of the nation's broadband system. This Internet highway, this pipeline of information — pick your metaphor — has to stay open. That is a political imperative that crosses all partisan lines.

Otherwise the predictable outcome is lucrative game playing by providers, such as Comcast, which was caught slowing down customer access to a service that moved large video files. The FCC said to back off, Comcast refused and the case went to court.

This showdown was set up by a Bush administration decision to water down FCC prerogatives. Ryan Singel, writing on Wired's Epicenter blog, said broadband providers were deregulated into information services instead of telecommunication services unambiguously subject to FCC oversight.

The Internet has thrived, prospered and evolved because it was seen as open, creative turf with access by all manner of devices and software from all types of locations. The information stream was to be as diverse as the access.

Service providers cannot be allowed to block competitors' sites or pick and choose among streams of lawful traffic, including video and real-time games. They also must be transparent about their network-management practices.

Remember, the court did not say "no" to rules. One branch of government looked to another to put those into place. Net neutrality is up to Congress.

article originally published at Seattle Times.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey